The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Tuesday heard arguments in the case of Blairmont Rice v Kayman Sankar, with Blairmont’s lawyer Sanjeev Datadin urging the Court not to treat his client’s failure to make payments as a fundamental breach that denied the contract all.
Blairmont had made an agreement back in 2006 to buy land from Sankar in Von Better, Berbice, on condition that the land would be paid in six-month installments. But when Blairmont failed to make two payments, Sankar thought the deal was reprimanded and went to court.
According to Datadin, however, the contracts entered into by both parties did not include provision for all payments to fall due when one payment was missed. Although Datadin acknowledged that there was a breach, he argued that it was not such a fundamental breach that would give respondents the right to judge the termination of the contract.
Datadin told the court that the appellant, Blairmont Rice Investments, had no clear indication that he was unwilling to pay. Instead, there has been correspondence between the two and attempts to redress the charges.
“In fact he was involved in an attempt to make up his outstanding payments. And that process was an offer he was trying to get to make that payment, ”the attorney-at-law told the court.
“The substance of the dispute arose following the agreements entered into in 2006. And in 2010 when payments were due, they were not made. There is no debate about that. The appellants were required to make payments under that contract every six months over a period of 10 years. And they didn’t. ”
Datadin said that the respondents had subsequently written a letter making it clear that they were finally considering the contract and that they were instigating legal proceedings. He said there was an exchange of correspondence in October 2010 and an understanding that payments would be made in installments.
“The three contracts are exactly the same. And there was no provision in the contract that the failure of a single installment meant that all installments were payable. There is no debate about that. In fact, as evidenced by the response on October 6, what respondents were seeking was that a clause be inserted into the new arrangement. “
“So my humble submission is that the amount that would have been owed to the respondents at that stage would have been the amount that should have been paid, whatever the installment was… the three contracts provided to me ‘ w pay in installments over a long period of 10 years. And payments had been made. The reason for the half yearly installments was because it complemented the rice crop. That’s when money became available. ”
Datadin further explained that Blairmont, which has been struck off the Register of Companies since 2010 over its failure to file annual returns, is seeking to re-register itself as a company, pending retrospective accounting of its accounts.
Appearing for Kayman Sankar were KA Attorneys-in-law Juman Yassin and Teni Housty. Yassin pointed out that the correspondence between the parties included a letter that spoke to the bank agreeing to Blairmont Rice paying US $ 50,000 per month payments and a change in contract stating that if Blairmont failed to make a single payment even, everything would be payable.
“The evidence in this matter is that there has been no response to this letter. And because of the non-payment of installments, [for instance] a bank would have been able to come down and take possession of the property, ”explained Yassin.
“The payout clause was basic. And let’s assume that no payments were made to the financial institution in 2010, 2011 and they come down and take possession of the property. That would have been disastrous. My submission is that the failure to pay the installments is a fundamental cut. ”
Following submissions from Housty and making submissions, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders noted that the Court will reserve judgment later.